By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) – Universal’s kid-friendly film “The Bad Guys” commits a heist through the ages, snatching the No. 1 at the domestic box office.
The animated comedy has raised $24 million from 4,009 North American theaters in its debut, enough to take the crown from “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” In its second weekend of release, the latest chapter in the “Harry Potter” prequel series plunged to third place with $14 million, a troubling sign for Warner Bros.’ Magic movie franchise.
“The Bad Guys” may stand out from the competition, but it’s not the only newcomer to the cinema tent. “The Northman,” a bloodied Viking epic from director Robert Eggers, and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” a meta-comedy in which Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself, opened in theaters nationwide with mixed results. With three original films released widely, this weekend shows that Hollywood still has new ideas — but audiences aren’t always willing to travel to see them.
“The Bad Guys” is priced at $70 million, so even though the Dreamworks Animation film has topped the box office, it may have to make a profit in its theatrical run. The international box office will be very important to get into the black world. Already, the film has grossed $63 million overseas, taking its global tally to $87.1 million. It helps that despite strong reviews, audiences seem to like the film, which earned it an “A” CinemaScore from ticket buyers. Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson and Awkwafina lead the voices of “The Bad Guys,” which follows a cracker crew of animal criminals as they attempt their most challenging conman ever — becoming model citizens.
“The Northman” opened in fourth place, earning $12 million from 3,865 locations. That’s a fine result for an arthouse film, but sadly, “The Northman” doesn’t carry the budget of an arthouse film. The film reportedly cost $90 million, though sources close to production say the final amount is close to $70 million after accounting for tax incentives. And Focus Features, which shares costs with New Regency, does not skimp on promotional efforts. “The Northman” has a poster with stars Alexander Skarsg?rd, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Bj?rk and Willem Dafoe emblazoned in Times Square.
“The reviews were great, but with a budget of around $75 million, ‘The Northman’ will struggle to recover costs,” said David A. Gross, who runs film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” from Lionsgate, took the No. 5 with $7.1 million, a shaky start given its reported $30 million budget. Directed by Tom Gormican, this kind of weird friends comedy follows Cage, whose declining star as a super billionaire fan (played by Pedro Pascal) offers him $1 million to attend a birthday party in the Maldives. As events take a turn, Cage teams up with the CIA and channels his most beloved movie character to save his family from his biggest fan, who may be a dangerous arms dealer.
Despite the stacking competition, Paramount’s family-friendly sequel “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” shot past “Fantastic Beasts 3” and others to land in second place with $15.2 million from 3,809 spots. After three weeks in theaters, the follow-up “Sonic” has grossed $145.8 million. The film is less than $3 million to surpass its predecessor’s $148 million pre-pandemic domestic box office total, though 2020’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” will likely enjoy a longer run on the big screen without COVID-19 ruining those plans.